Arthritis and Diet : Two Strategies that Work

Arthritis and Diet : Two Strategies that Work

The relationship between arthritis and diet has been much disputed in recent years. Claims have been made regarding the healing effects of cider vinegar and honey or the deleterious effects of potatoes and peppers. None of these claims has been verified by research.

However, there has emerged a positive association between arthritis and diets that reduce fats and increase the anti-inflammatory response of the body. Such diets that target weight reduction and lower inflammation seem to reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

Arthritis and Diet that Reduces Fats and Weight

Being overweight creates an unnecessary burden on weight bearing joints like back, hips, knees, ankles and feet. It makes logical sense that keeping weight under control can have a positive effect on joint motion and discomfort.

Unfortunately, most people equate weight loss with counting calories and eating less, a situation that often creates an imbalance in nutritional intake. Counting calories can lead to a diet that is lower in calories but nutritionally deficient. This does not bode well for people with arthritis who need to sustain a balanced diet even more than healthy people. A diet that reduces fat and sugar intake, while increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables seems best.

The key to weight control is fat reduction, specifically saturated fats that are found in animal products like red meat, milk and cheese. It is wise to avoid trans fats and saturated fats as well as consume a smaller amount of monosaturated fats like olive oil or canola oil.

Another way to reduce weight is controlling one’s intake of sugar. Sugar provides empty calories that have no nutritional value. Even honey, brown sugar and raw sugar provide more calories than nutrients.

A third way is to fill up on fruits and vegetables which provide not only nutrients but fiber and roughage. Dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale and brussel sprouts are low in calories, rich in vitamins, fiber and cancer-fighting properties. They are great fillers that can help ward off unwanted hunger pangs.

Arthritis and Diet that Reduces Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory diet has been touted by well-known diet professionals like Dr. Nicholas Perricone and Barry Sears, creator of the Zone Diet. Its proponents claim that certain foods calm the immune system, reducing the chronic inflammation that often leads to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and arthritis.

Research has linked certain nutrients like the omega-fatty-3 acids in fish oils and in various spice compounds with anti-inflammatory functions. They dampen the production of chemicals that trigger the inflammatory process in the body. Foods that promote inflammation such as trans fats, saturated fats ( found in red meats and dairy products), processed foods and refined carbohydrates ( like white bread and sugar) are discouraged. Vegetables and fruits are encouraged because of their antioxidant action.

So what does an anti-inflammatory diet look like?

The typical Mediterranean diet has all the properties of a regime that is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The following foods are staples of this diet.

  • brightly colored fruits such as oranges, apples, pomegranates
  • varied vegetables like onions, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts,eggplants,
  • whole grains like brown rice and bulgur
  • monosaturated oils like olive oil
  • legumes like beans and lentils
  • dark chocolate
  • garlic, tumeric and ginger
  • oily fish
  • poultry in moderation
  • little or no red meat
  • nuts, especially walnuts (in moderation
  • reduced consumption of refined foods like white pasta, white bread and rice

There is no counting calories in this diet, just a conscious assimilation of foods known to reduce inflammation in the body.

People who adopt this diet often lose body fat and weight. Most significantly, they also reclaim the mobility of joints and limbs and a reduction in pain.

Despite the controversy surrounding the relationship between arthritis and diet, two aspects of dietary selection seem to alleviate the symptoms of this chronic condition: foods that reduce body fat and the inflammatory response.

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition